By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
If all the coverage seemed frivolous, boosterish and incoherent, this was probably fitting, for it's essential to the Presley story that it keeps resonating in so many unexpected directions -- from Bill Clinton being nicknamed Elvis (aptly, it turned out) to William F. Buckley writing his 2001 novel, Elvis in the Morning, and then going on the chat shows to talk (fib?) about what a great musician he thought The King was. Among those who went to Memphis for the 25th anniversary, there could've been no weirder couple than Lisa Marie Presley and new husband Nicolas Cage, who not only has aped Elvis more than once on film but also famously collects Presley memorabilia. Talk about devil's bargains! While it's scary that Cage would add a live human being to his collection ("She comes with a Certificate of Authenticity," joked Entertainment Weekly's Jim Mullen), what's really terrifying is that this isn't even Lisa Marie's craziest marriage.
LIKE COUNTLESS OTHERS, I WAS RAISED TO VIEW YOKO Ono as the scary-haired demoness who broke up the Beatles. I'd long ago learned this was a misogynist cliché (does anyone still believe it?) and that Ono was a serious artist linked to, among others, John Cage, Allan Kaprow and Fluxus. Still, I'd never gotten a true feel for her work until last week when I checked out the "YES Yoko Ono" show at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. There, you encounter the famous piece that so delighted John Lennon, the stepladder to the magnifying glass through which you can find the word "Yes," plus lots of other low-key pleasures -- droll bits of collage art, a vending machine that dispenses pieces of "sky," a Plexiglas maze named "Amaze" leading to a toilet, and a series of all-white chess sets atop a row of all-white tables lined with all-white chairs, like something from the White Room of their Dakota pad. What struck me was how a woman widely seen as utterly humorless and controlling created Out Art so filled with poker-faced fun and affirmation. Much of Ono's work is slight and charming, but most of the world never realized that she was ahead of her time, because they were still living in the past of the world's most famous rock band.
It was always a source of tension in her relationship with Lennon that his voluminous fame took away from her autonomy. Which may help explain why her work increasingly explored feminist themes. Perhaps her most powerful expression of this is her 1969 film Rape(made in collaboration with Lennon) in which the camera starts off interviewing a young Viennese woman who at first seems flattered to be filmed. But once the camera relentlessly follows her all the way home, she starts feeling assaulted and freaks out.
A startling piece of proto-reality TV, Rapelooks positively utopian in these days of The Anna Nicole Show, whose star's whole career has been a series of devil's bargains -- on both sides. Unlike Ono's young heroine, Anna Nicole Smith never stops being a willing participant in her rape by the camera, which delights in capturing her crazy-vacant eyes, upper arms that balloon like Evian bottles, and countless dimwit maunderings. The show would only be bearable if Smith were actually putting it on. But how could she be? She's Elvis -- if he'd never had any talent.